Smart’s alleged abductors arraigned

CNN, Mar. 19, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) — Flanked by his public defender, a self-described “minister of the Lord,” accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and holding her captive for nine months, was arraigned via closed circuit television Wednesday.

Brian David Mitchell was charged with four first-degree felonies — one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault.

He also has been charged with two felony counts of aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated kidnapping for allegedly trying to break into the home of Smart’s cousin, Jessica Wright, on July 24.

Mitchell’s wife and alleged accomplice, Wanda Ilene Barzee, faces the same six charges. Barzee also appeared Wednesday on closed-circuit TV from the jail where the pair is being held.

Each of the counts carries a life sentence. Neither suspect entered a plea.

Barzee’s two court-appointed attorneys, David Finlayson and Scott Williams, were in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court for the arraignment.

In that proceeding, district attorney Clark Harms asked Judge Tyrone Medley to enter an order prohibiting Mitchell and Barzee from having any contact with Smart, her family, or any of the witnesses in the case.

Medley agreed to the request and also issued an order allowing only Mitchell’s attorneys of record to visit him in jail.

The two aggravated sexual assault counts state that with the assistance of Barzee, Mitchell raped, attempted to rape, and forcibly sexually abused the teen, or attempted forcible sexual abuse.

One of those counts covers incidents on June 5, the date Smart, then 14, was taken from her bedroom at knifepoint. The other count is for incidents occurring between June 5 and August 2.

Yocom: Elizabeth Smart ” … was continually under the threat of death to herself or her family.”

The charges also state that the girl was restrained by a cable and was threatened at knife point that harm would come to her or her family if she did not comply with Mitchell’s demands.

According to legal code, “aggravated” means the crimes were committed with a dangerous weapon.

“She was continually under the threat of death to herself or her family,” Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom said Tuesday.

Smart’s parents have pledged their cooperation in prosecuting Mitchell and Barzee, Yocom said.

The parents have also asked the media to refrain asking for details of any alleged sexual assaults, he said.

Elizabeth is said to be cooperating fully with forensic psychiatrists and investigators.

A court-appointed attorney, David Biggs, stood next to Mitchell during the brief arraignment.

When Medley asked Mitchell if his name was “Brian David Mitchell,” the suspect replied, “That is the name the world calls me by.”

Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, are currently in the custody of Salt Lake City’s county sheriff.

Medley set the pair’s next court date for April 1. Bail has been set at $10 million for each suspect. It is unclear if federal charges will be filed against them.

–CNN Correspondent Ed Lavandera and CNN producer Chuck Afflerbach contributed to this report.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 19, 2003.
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